The Federal Trade Commission today announced six enforcement actions, including one that imposes a $450,000 civil penalty and five that for the first time address biodegradable plastic claims, as part of the agency’s ongoing crackdown on false and misleading environmental claims.
The plastic cases include a complaint against a company that markets an additive it claims makes plastic products biodegradable and four complaints and proposed consent orders against companies that marketed various plastics with allegedly false and unsupported claims that their products were biodegradable. In the civil penalty case, the FTC filed a complaint and consent order against a company for violating a 1994 FTC order that prohibited it from making unsupported green claims for its paper plates and bags.
All of these cases are part of the FTC’s program to ensure compliance with the agency’s recently revised Green Guides. The Commission publishes the Guides to help businesses market their products accurately, providing guidance as to what constitutes deceptive and non-deceptive environmental claims.
The University of California, a system of 10 campuses with a combined student body of more than 200,000 people, and is the public university system for the most populous state in America. Today, we’re looking at various issued patents and patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect some of the exciting research underway in the Golden State.
A number of applications and issued patents we cover today deal with human sensory or biomedical developments. One patent application describes a system of using porous film to delivery medication to the eye. A recently issued patent protects a system of detecting heart arrhythmias without invasive ablation procedures. Another patent application would protect a method for sampling aromatic compounds to determine their chemical composition and a person’s olfactory response to segments of the aromatic compound.
Other inventions we feature here deal with improvements to energy collection or audio systems. One last patent application discusses a solar collector that is low in price while providing sun tracking capabilities. Finally, one issued patent protects a realistic sound generation system capable of reproducing sounds as if they were coming from another room.
In this last column in our Earth Day 2013 series, IPWatchdog wants to take a look at some of the research and development coming out of one of the industry leaders in wind energy technology, General Electric Company of Schenectady, NY.
GE Wind Energy is a branch of General Electric Company that is involved with the development and manufacture of wind energy turbines. As of 2009, General Electric was the world’s 2nd largest wind turbine supplier, according to Reuters. Wind energy has gained a lot of attention in the alternative energy world because it is renewable and can create electricity without fossil fuel emissions.
These patents and patent applications, published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, outline General Electric’s goals to increase efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs for its wind energy systems. Recently published patent applications include documents filed to protect a more efficiently designed turbine blade and an electronic sensor that can determine if corrosive forces have damaged a turbine blade. Another application is for a light reflective substance that can help warn birds away from turbine blades, which may at first seem insignificant but a major obstacle in the adoption of wind energy are complaints from environmentalists relating to the number of birds killed each year.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Continuing our Earth Day 2013 series, Charles Lickson asks whether patent protection is enough of an incentive for exploring clean, green solutions that may not be protectable, but which could offer important benefits for the environment and a sustainable energy future.
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It is certainly understandable why time and field of application limits must be placed on patent grants to allow inventors and organizations other than the patentee to enter certain fields after the exclusivity period expires. To do otherwise would actually inhibit the value of an invention because there would only ever be one supplier. Our patent system, of which I am a firm believer, gives a period of exclusive opportunity to the inventor – something essential to moving an invention into the real world of commerce and societal benefit. The field of clean or green technology is one of those areas where innovation is desperately needed if our planet Earth is to survive as a place where all living things can thrive.
Several important questions arise from this kind of situation:
What if a “new” and needed technology is not really new, but rather a new way of doing something which builds on a known (and patented technology where the exclusive protection period has expired)?
And, what if the “new” technology cannot find its way to market (i.e. real-world application) unless there is funding?
This article continues our Earth Day 2013 series with a look at the IPO Inventor of the Year Awards.
Four times over the past nine years the Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) Education Foundation has recognized inventors of green technologies as the Inventor of the Year. This trend is certainly not accidental given the growing interest in green technologies and the increased importance they will play as the global economy shifts from a carbon-based energy platform to more sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy.
Of course, we are many years away from a totally renewable energy economy. While there are some that are working on the “home run” solutions, many others work on important incremental advances. These incremental advances are what the patent system thrives on and particularly incentivizes. As you can see below, 3 of the 4 green technologies recognized by the IPO over the past decade relate to reducing energy consumption. The other relates to cleaning water, which saves lives in third-world and developing countries. Indeed, there are numerous ways to be green!
Will the IPO continue its recent trend and recognize a green innovation in 2013, making 5 out of the last 10 years a celebration of environmentally friendly technologies? That is at least in part up to the community. The IPO is currently looking for nominations for the 2013 Inventor of the Year Award, which will be handed out in a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2013. The nomination deadline is May 15, 2013.
Recycling has been a major concern in America for the past few decades, but our methods of recycling and commitment to green living could still see major improvement. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency reported that Americans created about 250 million tons of solid waste in 2010, most of that ending up in landfills or as combustible fuel, which can create a lot of air pollution. Only 85 million tons of this waste was recycled during that year.
Today our week-long Earth Day 2013 seriestakes a look at solar power technologies. To accomplish this we look at a variety of patent applications, as well as an issued patent, all of which relate to solar energy technologies that have been released by the USPTO within the past month or so.
Solar energy is one of the alternative energy forms that many believe can be an effective part of the new alternative energy that replaces our current carbon-based fossil fuel situation. Electricity generation from solar radiation creates no air pollutants and poses a minimal intrusion on the environment. However, solar radiation can be inconsistent based on time of day or weather, and large surface areas must be used to collect enough solar energy to generate a meaningful amount of electricity.
Four recent patent applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and featured here below give an interesting insight into the future of solar energy generation. In most of these applications, we can see solar cell panel technology being applied to individual devices and machines, collecting enough energy to charge a battery or at least reduce energy used from other sources. These patent applications describe cars, digital cameras, irrigation systems and even digital cameras with solar energy collection technology.
One solar technology patent awarded by the USPTO protects a photovoltaic energy collection kit that a homeowner could purchase and set up at a residence to provide solar energy generation for that building.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more.
Without hesitation I recommend One Simple Idea and think it should be required reading for any motivated inventor. There is so much to like about the book and so much that I think author Stephen Key nails dead on accurate. The book is educational, information and inspirational. For the $14 cover price it is essential reading.
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